Recently, I spent an hour on the phone with a scam artist who was pushing an extremely expensive, vastly overrated SEO service onto an unsuspecting client of mine. A 30-second Internet search brought up four top stories about the questionable ethics of this organization.
Nonetheless, the client wanted me to talk to the representative about the company blog — because this service was “free” — and I saw this as a great opportunity to get an answer to a question all bloggers ask (and many, many “experts” write books about):
“Give me just ONE concrete idea, that is workable and plausible, and that actually bumps up blog readership numbers.”
“Oh, well, there’s no one thing anyone can do, but if you write great content and get it out there, you’ll grab the readers!”
If that’s an example of concrete, then it’s no wonder skyscrapers free fall to the ground in 10 seconds when airplanes hit them.
The Business of Making Money
Now apparently a lot of savvy business owners are clueless about some of the basics, so it will take a career homemaker to point this out: there are droves of confident, assertive consultants who will charge you a lot to prepare a report about your business, telling you everything that you are doing wrong. Generally, they’ll say that your employees are at fault, and the money you could spend paying them a decent wage is better invested in hiring consultants, sending workers to seminars, conducting group meetings, and filling in the gaps with extra middle management. At no time, ever, listen to the people who perform the actual work and ask them for their opinion. If morale is low, slap positive thought posters around the cubicles and order in pizza (but send around a “contribution” can first).
I’m not that old, but I’ve watched too many small businesses drive themselves to the corporate coffin using this model. If you’re over 50 and you think, “Gee, it seemed different when I was younger. Businesses were friendlier, and I got more for my money,” you’re not in the throes of dementia.
The Business of Church
The sad thing is that churches nowadays (or has it always been this way?) model themselves upon the corporate paradigm, and in addition to focusing on numbers and costs, they talk big business (“intentional excellence,” “missional drive,” “authentic community dynamics,” “focusing on identity”), act big business (group and leadership assemblages, really really awful PowerPoint presentations, annual meetings with strict attention to Robert’s Rules of Order), and divide themselves into upper management (senior pastor, senior associate pastor, board of elders), middle management (worship team, visitation committee, small group leaders), and drones (those who sit in the pew and absorb everything they are told).
Instead of sending employees . . . er, congregants . . . to seminars, they bring in the message with videos, DVDs, books, and workbooks by financial, relationship, and social gurus whose main claim to expertise is that they pastored a big church and leveraged their name into something marketable, or they are the child of someone who did this, or they’re just a tremendously good talker with the right connections who promotes big, but doesn’t have to be around to answer for why what they propound doesn’t necessarily work.
We Can’t Figure This out for Ourselves?
(Take “Christian” finances, for example: People, are we so monetarily immature that we need to pay someone $100 per couple to tell us, via DVD and workbook, to not charge more than we have the ability to pay? And furthermore, because we are so cluelessly stupid, the only solution is to cut the cards up?
Or “Biblical Womanhood” — what is it about the cute blonde speaker, staring deep into our eyes from the screen and breathily assuring us that Jesus loves us, dearly, dear, that is so profound?)
We are weak, my friends, the same way that too many of our businesses are weak, because we throw responsibility for our lives, our thoughts, and our spirituality into the laps of decisive and dynamic personalities who assure us, for a fee (in Jesus’ name, of course), that they will point to us the answer to our problems. But they’re not around to make sure that what they say actually works, and when it doesn’t, it will be our fault, somehow. (There’s another DVD seminar next week that will address that problem — it’s $45, $65 with the workbook.)
Free. Free. Free!
You probably own a Bible, or several, already, so at no additional cost to you or your family, you can find truth, because that’s what is in the Book: truth.
And because, despite our dismal education system, you probably can read, you don’t need any expert to help you access that information. You just need time, and the willingness to read the Word for yourself, ask God what it means, and be alert to what He has to say.
Before you swipe your debit card for yet another distance seminar or small group class, invest 30 hours, say, of time into reading the Bible for yourself.
And “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14: 25)
It’s free! Wouldn’t you like to be?
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where my constant message is this: read the Bible for yourself. Think independently. Stop being so submissive and giving control of your mind to others.
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